The Detroit Lions are in the process of trying to find players for the future at multiple spots across the roster, and they may have been able to do just that at the key position of kicker.
An injury to Austin Seibert forced Riley Patterson into the spotlight, and ever since Patterson has stepped into the role, he hasn’t exactly shied away from it at all. Amid many bright spots for the Lions in an ugly game, one of the brightest may have been Patterson himself.
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Young kickers are often rendered powerless when they start the league, stunted by the bright lights. Patterson has been the rare exception for Detroit since taking over the job. He hasn’t missed a single kick or extra point, and as Lions PR pointed out, is the first player to hit all of his first four field goals in a Lions uniform since Eddie Murray in 1980.
Murray, Lions fans will remember, stayed with the team for 11 years and cracked a pair of Pro Bowls with the team as one of the best kickers in franchise history. The fact that Patterson has joined him with a stat only shows how he could be on the path to doing similar things in his career if he is able to stick it out and remain consistent. Early on, though, this is a big positive to note.
Patterson Could Become Lions’ Kicker of Future
The time could be right for Detroit’s kicking game has been up in the air since the offseason, when the Lions let established veteran option Matt Prater walk. Prater may be aging, but he remained a consistent option for the team who was still very clutch at his kicking job for his old team. The Lions tried in vain to replace Prater with names such as Randy Bullock and Matthew Wright this past offseason, and when those players flopped, the team turned to Austin Seibert. When Seibert got hurt or couldn’t play, Ryan Santoso took over, but collapsed in Week 10. With the Lions hitting the reset button again following Garrick Rosas steadying the ship in Week 11, they made a move and elevated Patterson to the roster.
While Seibert could be seen as a quality young option for the team as well for 2022, it’s hard to ignore Patterson’s debut. Though he has some questions about accuracy from college, the youngster looked relatively unflappable in his first game. Between him and Seibert, there could be a quality kicking competition next season where the best young player could truthfully win. At this point, it’s impossible to say that Patterson won’t seize the opportunity he now has with Detroit. For now, Seibert is out of sight and out of mind, so Patterson will get a consistent crack at making a big roster impression for the team.
Patterson’s College Stats & Highlights
Coming into the league out of Memphis, Patterson is one of the more accurate kickers coming from college in terms of extra points. In a four-year career with the Tigers, Patterson missed just a total of six extra points, going 240-246 with the team, which is good for a 97.6% conversion rate. On kicks, however, is where Patterson has seen most of his problems in college. Over that same span, Patterson converted just 64-83 field goals, for a much lower 77.1% conversion rate. He fell apart in his senior season of 2020 with a shaky 68.2% conversion rate on kicks. Here’s a breakdown of Patterson which does show plenty of positives with his game:
Any potential past accuracy problems didn’t stop him from getting NFL looks, however, and Patterson does have decent accuracy in his past given his 92% conversion rate in 2019. That was the highest total for the kicker in his college career, which begs the question of whether it was an aberration or not.
So far, Patterson looks good with a small sample size. He will have a shot to prove he’s the guy moving forward, but this is a definite positive.